While red and pink equal signs distracted America’s attention, a less sexy bill slipped its way into law on Thursday; but unlike Supreme Court rulings, America could have influenced this outcome. That is no longer.
On Thursday, March 28th, food giant Monsanto landed a big victory with the passage of H.R. 933, commonly referred to as the “Monsanto Protection Act.” Monsanto, the industrial food giant commonly associated with genetically engineered foods and the creation of Agent Orange, has a history of conflicting interests with the people it feeds (everyone). Here are five things that you should know about the new protections granted to the multi-national corporation.
It grants Monsanto judicial immunity in cases dealing with Genetic Engineering.
Monsanto, the aggro-industrial seed giant and public enemy number one for small scale farmers, spends the majority of the year in legal battles concerning their controversial seed patenting tactics. That’s changing quickly thanks to the House approved Agriculture Appropriations Bill that grants the USDA the ability to override a judicial ruling in opposition to the planting of a genetically modified crops. Bear in mind, the corporate giant has direct influence on the USDA.
It was passed with some sneaky backdoor politics
Though Obama signed the bill into law on Tuesday, the “bio-tech” rider slid through Congress last week without many Congressional members even aware of its existence. It seems the provision was attached to spending bill HR 933, the annual fiscal budget proposal that was necessary to avoid a governmental eclipse.
Some of the blame is being put on the Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. According to the Center for Food Safety,
“Congress has held no hearings on this controversial biotech rider and many Democrats in the Committee were unaware of its presence in the CR. Additionally, Mikulski and the Senate Appropriations Committee failed to bring this rider in front of the Agriculture or Judiciary Committees, disregarding their expertise and jurisdiction and in blatant violation of common practice.
It’s a drastic step in the wrong direction
If the strike down of California’s Prop 37 (a cause to which Monsanto donated a whopping $44 million) that would have mandated GMO labeling on consumer products wasn’t bad enough, the Monsanto Protection Act is a product of the terrifying reality that corporate welfare is taking precedent over public health and environmental integrity. If it wasn’t for the small militia of lobbyists Monsanto routinely mobilized on Capitol Hill, this back door take down of small scale farming wouldn’t be possible.
If left to their whims, Monsanto would dump thousands of gallons of their RoundUp fertilizers and pesticides on their RoundUp ready plants and feed the genetically altered, intoxicated zombie vegetables to the public, without them knowing the difference. Now DuPont can’t even compete with them.
It sets a terrifying precedent
Allowing corporations to buy their own branch of the government nullifies the weight of our democratic influence as citizens. We have worked ourselves into an economic black hole that can’t be fixed by lowering a company’s justifiable large litigation fees. If our Senators and Representatives have no other choice than to bend to their financiers than there aren’t many choices left, especially when it comes to industrialized food. No other issue is more intrinsically connected to all aspects of human life.
There is already a considerable amount of resistance
Though the provision is only indefinitely in effect for 6 more months there are already dozens of the nation’s top organizations and businesses speaking out against the Monsanto Protection Act, including the National Farmers Union, American Civil Liberties Union, Sierra Club, Stonyfield Farm, Nature’s Path, Consumers Union, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and Food Democracy Now. Over 250,000 peopled have already signed a petition started by Food Democracy Now. Sign the petition here.